Obama, Lee pitch trade deal in Michigan

By Jim Kuhnhenn

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Oct. 14 2011 3:00 p.m. MDT

In a Republican debate this week, Romney said he disagreed with the Obama administration's handling of the auto rescue. Democrats have pounced on a New York Times opinion piece written by Romney in November 2008, as GM and Chrysler were seeking federal bailouts. Romney, at the time, wrote that the companies needed to restructure themselves and said if they received a federal bailout, "you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye."

The trip also served as an opportunity for Obama to illustrate his special relationship with the South Korean leader. Inviting Lee to the U.S. heartland was an unusual addition to the itinerary of a high-profile state visit, and once there, both leaders took off their jackets, rolled up their sleeves and, wearing nearly identical steel blue ties, posed for pictures inside a shiny red Sonic. Obama was behind the wheel and Lee in the passenger's seat.

When Lee got out he turned to his hosts and asked in English: "Special discount?"

Replied Obama: "It's already a good bargain."

The South Korea could expand U.S. exports by $11 billion and support 70,000 jobs, according to the White House. Along with new deals with Colombia and Panama, the agreements would lower or eliminate tariffs that American exporters face in the three countries.

Many labor groups opposed the deals, but the agreements won wide bipartisan support in part because their passage was linked to legislation to extend aid to workers displaced by foreign competition.

Associated Press writer Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.

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